Pretoria: England paceman Jofra Archer escaped being banned from bowling for the rest of the first Test against South Africa after delivering two successive beamers late in the twilight at the end of a frustrating day for his team on Friday.
Archer bowled two full tosses at South Africa nightwatchman Anrich Nortje in the penultimate over of the day which were both no-balled by umpire Paul Reiffel, only for his decision on the second no-ball to be rescinded.
Two successive no-balls for beamers would have meant Archer, the key to England’s ambitions in the four-Test series, would not be allowed to bowl for the remainder of South Africa’s second innings.
The drama unfolded as England were left frustrated in their bid to remove Nortje, who had been sent out to bat when South Africa’s fourth wicket of the second innings fell with some 20 minutes left of the day’s play.
Archer attempted a slower ball but it came out of his hand as a full toss and was no-balled by Reiffel.
He then followed it with a similar waist-high delivery which Reiffel again called a no-ball before quickly withdrawing his decision after England protests.
The umpire seemed to accept it was a botched attempt at a slower ball rather than a malicious delivery.
England argued that Nortje made it look worse by falling to the ground as the ball flew past him with batsman Joe Denly saying he was surprised that Archer would try two slower balls in a row, but felt the second delivery dipped markedly and just missed the stumps.
But it caused consternation on the South African dressing room balcony, with captain Faf du Plessis and coach Mark Boucher going off to see the match referee Andy Pycroft.
“The umpires have to deal with it and make the right call,” South African bowler Vernon Philander said.
“I suppose if you’re at square leg and you call no-ball you’ve got to stand your ground. At no time did they actually cancel it."
“I don’t know what happened but there was a little bit of a conversation going on after the game. For me it’s plain and simple, we’re playing a game and we’re setting an example for the rest of the people coming into this game.”
South Africa led England by 175 runs at the end of the second day after scoring 284 in their first innings and 72-4 in their second. They bowled England out for 181 in their first innings on Friday.
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Catch the LIVE Score from final day of first Test between Sri Lanka and England taking place at the Galle
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